The 2021 NCAA Men’s Final Four was on the distant horizon when Eric Neuburger assumed the role of director of Lucas Oil Stadium in 2017. He took the job after serving 10 years as an assistant athletic director at Indiana University. As the Final Four gets set to tip-off Saturday, Neuburger says the effort to host all of March Madness has been a success up to this point and has benefitted from a test run by hosting the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Championship.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Sports host Bill Benner, Neuburger said one of the advantages he has is an experienced staff, some of whom date back to the days of the Hoosier Dome.
“The stadium staff lives for these moments,” Neuburger said. “These are many of the reasons that folks decide to work for a stadium like ours because it’s not easy work. And we go back all the way to that 1991 Final Four where we have folks on staff who had big parts in making that so successful.”
Neuburger says one of the main challenges has been safely accommodating fans at the stadium during March Madness.
“The primary driver of attendance for us is being able to separate households, in twos and fours and sixes, at least six feet away from anybody neighboring them. So that puts us at about 22% when you take into account the space needed around the court and around the broadcast positions.”
Neuburger says the COVID-19 protocols that have been put in place have been key to hosting the event. In addition to enforcing the county-wide mask mandate, the stadium has also gone to contactless payments for concessions and digital ticketing.
He adds the LOS staff will receive a well-deserved break after the tournament has ended.
“I think we’ll have a great feeling of relief and as soon as our friends from the NCAA walk out that door, our team will be getting some rest.”